Event Inspiration: Mardi Gras

As New Orleans-based event professionals, there is no greater inspiration than Mardi Gras. From logistics to creative development, our team gets a boost of event planning inspiration every Carnival Season. Steeped in history, tradition, and whimsy Mardi Gras brings out the creative visionary in all of us, whether you are a veteran Krewe member or a first time spectator. Each year the Krewes design new floats, locals plot new costumes, and the Mardi Gras Indians sew new suits. Here are a few of our favorite Mardi Gras inspirations…

BBC Museum Shoe Catch


From Krewe of Rex to Krewe du Vieux, each Mardi Gras Krewe has its own tradition, theme, and style. Each Krewe has distinct characteristics that guide their creations: balls, float designs, costumes, throws, satire… Think of a Krewe as an all-encompassing brand netted in every aspect of their parades and parties.

Parade Floats

Each Krewe has an overarching theme for the year that ties their parade together. Politics differs from Krewe to Krewe, however Krewe members will usually have some say on the theme and design of their particular float. The larger Krewes will hand over these thoughts to artists, creative directors, and float dens, who then go to work bringing these ideas to life. The creativity involved from conception to creation is interlaced through multiple persons and details—it is a real team effort.


In the early days of Mardi Gras (think 1870s) throws consisted of cherished lithographs of float designs and glass beads. Today, you will find everything from stuffed animals to handcrafted gems. Throws like the Krewe of Muses’ outrageous glittered shoes (which we happened to catch this year!), the Krewe of Zulu’s hand painted coconuts, and the Krewe of Tucks’ bedazzled plungers (yes, as in toilet plungers) are some of the most treasured Mardi Gras throws. Members spend months designing, painting, and bedazzling these “branded” gifts.

Satirical Spectacle

Smart, funny, and sometimes even biting satire has been woven throughout parades, traditions, and costumes since the early 1800s. Whether it is a float of the most recent political scandal or a group of dancing Kim Jung Uns—these displays are over-the-top and always timley.


Beginning around 1800, costumed revelers could be found in every dance hall and ballroom in the city during carnival season. Architect Benjamin Latrobe wrote in 1819,

“Mardi Gras brought forth the greatest parade of costumes and masks. There was a regalia from every nation and epochs, an array of grotesque, quizzical, diabolical, horrible, strange masks, and disguises of demigods and demi beasts, apes and man-bats from the moon, joined by mermaids and Punchinellos, by satyrs prancing with monks, and savages dancing with shepherd girls and nuns.”

Not much has changed in 197 years. Today, hand-made costumes remain a huge part of Mardi Gras. Locals plot their Mardi Gras costumes for months. When you see that hint of glitter on your co-worker’s cheek you know it must have been late night of glue guns and feathers fueled by King Cake and coffee. Locals reveal their costumes on Mardi Gras Day (aka Fat Tuesday) at hidden pockets of street parties and parades throughout the French Quarter and Marigny neighborhoods. If you are lucky, you will catch a glimpse of the Mardi Gras Indians and their beautiful hand-beaded feathered suits.